Ruth Malhotra went to court last month for the right to be intolerant.

That’s how the LA Times opens their article that lumps numerous ideas and issues into one jumbled mess of a story, which leads me to a jumbled mess of a post.

How does one define intolerance? Is it simply not accepting of another person’s views? If so, then we all are “gulty” of it. Is it publically speaking of someone in a negative connotation? If so, then not only is Malhotra guilty of it, so is the LA Times – by calling her “intolerant” they are being, what else, intolerant of her views.

You can, and should, debate whether she is deserving of the intolerance, but you cannot both preach the all-incompassing virtue of something while denying it to those with whom you disagree. There is the real test in how much you really believe in freedom – do you seek the same rights for those on the opposite side of an issue?

Malhotra’s case involves Georgia Tech’s intolerance policy, which does not allow some one to put down others based on several characteristics, including sexual orientation. I disagree with the policy even if you exclude the “gay clause.” Why mandate students’ speech?

Why not allow those with what could be considered objectionable views voice their opinion? If someone is a racist and they want to say so, go ahead. If someone hates Christians and wants to write a column about it, go for it. Those who spew hatred will be shown for what they are and most students will turn away from those views, but when you force an opinion into the shadows, you unintentionally raise the visibility of the opinion.

Malhotra said she had been reprimanded by college deans several times in the last few years for expressing conservative religious and political views. She was asked to paint over a display “condeming feminism” and was called to the dean’s office and reprimanded for a letter she sent to gay activists. How can you allow one aspect of any issue to be raised, but then forbid students from disagreeing with the school supported stance?

But there is two seperate issues – the legal one and the moral one. Louis emailed me this story and Sam linked to it in the comments, both in connection to reasons why they dislike Christianity.

Even liberal readers should be honest enough to admit that this is a biased article – the opening sentence gives it way. Having said that, even after filtering for the bias, one can guess that Malhotra is a bit of an attention hound and likes to stir up trouble. I’m not sure if that is the correct way to represent Christ. It may work when espousing conservative Republican principles, but drawing people to Jesus is different than signing up GOP voters.

I’m not sure where the balance is – being able to stand firm in Christian principles and the concept of sin, but reaching out to sinners of all stripes with the redemptive message of the Gospel. It is a difficult line to walk.

Louis has said repeatedly because Christianity views things as sinful. Particularly offensive to him, is the prohibition on gay sex. There’s not much that can be done about that short of changing the core doctrine of the faith.

However, Christians can and should espouse our views in a way that does not belittle or demonize non-Christians. I can still maintain my positions and beliefs without being condescending and rude to Louis. He may still vehemently disagree with me, but we can still treat one another with respect. We may not be able to “tolerate” the views of the other, but we can tolerate the person.

I’m sure I fail at walking the line constantly. I find ways to cloud the beautiful fulfilling story of Christ and His love, with my own viewpoints and ideas. I shamefully hide His glory behind my own dim mirror seeking to win conversation and debates, instead of converts and disciples.

But regardless, my failings should not allow the government (be it school or federal) to stop me from speaking about my beliefs. Even if you disagree with them – especially if you disagree with them. Even if I disagree with yours – especially if I disagree with yours. That is real freedom of speech. Agree?